What was supposed to have been a close fought battle between Korea and Philippines, fizzled out as the Filipinas won easily 11-1, in four innings, in what was supposed to have be a crucial Group A U18 Women Softball Asia Cup 2023 match to determine the second spot in the table, at the Pingtan Softball Stadium, China, this afternoon.
While a battle royale was visible on the cards, as Korea started off impressively with a one run lead in the first inning, everything went wrong for the Koreans from the second inning.
Korea just switched off from the second inning, when they started to make errors after errors, as Philippines capitalised to race to take a five runs lead batting in the bottom half.
The Koreans never recovered from the deficit as they continued to make more simple errors like fielding and over throwing, as the Filipina schoolgirls from Bacolod City High School, continued pile another two runs in the third and four in the fourth, for a 11-1 victory to move into the Super round tomorrow.
However, Philippines coach Sheirylou Valenzuela was modest in victory and said that it was still a tough match.
“We just gave our best shot and it worked for us. Korea are a formidable team,” said Valenzuela, who coaches at Addison University in Manila.
When pressed further that the Koreans fizzled out after making errors after errors, Valenzuela admitted that it did help her team, as their confidence soared.
“But we still had to play at our best for this win. It did not come easy, nor was it handed to us.”
Valenzuela said that she was actually the assistant coach of this team from Bacolod and the chief coach was Ma Lizviminda Jalandoni, who could make the trip because of visa issues.
“We are said that the chief coach is not here because she is the coach of the Bacolod City High School here. I am glad that I have managed to handle well in her absence, but I have Kaith Ezra (Jalandoni), the pitch coach, who is the school’s assistant coach, to assist me and guide me,” added Valenzuela.
Infact, Kaith is the daughter of Lizviminda and a former national player from 2017, for four years.
“It is sad that my mother is not here because it is her team. I have been assisting her when I quit the national team during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kaith.
Valenzuela said that they are on track with their target to finish third and qualify for the World Cup, and they intend to go for broke.
“Yes, we have a tough Super round clash against Japan and Chinese Taipei. While Japan is the favourite to win the title here and are a class above, we believe we have a fighting chance against Chinese Taipei and intend to give our best.”
While the Philippines camp were overjoyed with their victory today and making the Super round, the Koreans were devastated.
Korean coach Jeho Jang could not believe his team’s performance today.
“We started off well in the first inning, although with just a run, but we were in command,” said Jang.
“But the unexpected happened in the second inning when we started making errors and the players confidence eroded and they never recovered.
“This is not the team I know and our strength. It is that disappointing that we crumbled at this stage.”
The Koreans had six errors in the four innings which caused them them the game.
In the next game this evening host China proved too formidable for win less Hong Kong as they sent them packing with a 17-0 in three innings.
China showed they meant business and were class above Hong Kong as they raced to 11 runs in the first inning and another 6 in the second inning for this comfortable win to remain unbeaten after three matches in Group A and qualify for the Super round tomorrow.
China will play Chinese Taipei in an exciting encounter tomorrow night, but the host pack too much power and quality to see Chinese Taipei cause them any serious problems.
It will be the match against Japan on Saturday in their second Super round match which will serve as a preview between the two teams expected to meet in the final on Sunday.
It is the battle for the third spot that is going to be intense, between Philippines and Chinese Taipei.
India 0 Chinese Taipei 7 (match forfeited although India arrived and as they had missed two earlier Group matches. India fielded a team and played Chinese Taipei in a friendly and lost 0-9 loss)
Japan 24 Singapore 0
Korea 1 Philippines 11
China 17 Hong Kong 0
India 0 v Singapore 7 (match forfeited as India has not arrived)
Hong Kong 3 Korea 12
Japan 8 Chinese Taipei 0
China 11 Philippines 0
Philippines 7 Hong Kong 0
India 0 v Japan 7 (match forfeited as India failed to show-up)
Singapore 2 Chinese Taipei 15
China 10 Korea 0
TOMORROW’S FIXTURES (SUPER ROUND AND PLACEMENT MATCHES)
9.00am: HONG KONG (fourth placed team in Group A) v SINGAPORE (third placed team in Group B) – Placement # 2
11.00am: SOUTH KOREA (Group A third placed) v INDIA (fourth placed Group B) – Placement #1
3.30pm: PHILIPPINES (Runner-up Group A) v JAPAN (Group B champion) – Super Round#2
5.30pm CHINA (Group A champion) v CHINESE TAIPEI (Group B runners-up) – Super Round #1